The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation dished out $72 million in grants to American universities to create “anti-racist” curricula and programming.
According to the Mellon Foundation’s website, 16 “multidisciplinary, university-based teams across the US who are committed to racial justice and social equality” received up to five million dollars to work on “anti-racist” projects. Projects were supposed to be “ambitious” and address racial inequality in “bold and imaginative ways.”
The Mellon Foundation is the largest funder of the arts and humanities in the United States. The organization has a total endowment of nearly $7 trillion.
One of the winners, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, proposed creating a curriculum to advance “anti-racist” pedagogy in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM). Another winner, the University of Michigan, proposed a study into a “community-based reparations solution.” The University of Michigan won grants for two proposals.
The University of Michigan offered the most controversial proposal — addressing and offering racial reparations. The university said that in its “pursuit of a more democratic society” it will work with a network of universities and organizations to offer “tangible solutions for racial reparations.”
“Reparations refers to compensation, which may include a national apology, educational, housing, and healthcare programs, and financial redress from the U.S. government to Native Americans for genocide and African Americans for the detrimental effects of slavery and beyond,” the university announcement reads.
In a press release, the University of Wisconsin indicated that its project will work “to address a lack of awareness of histories of racism in academic disciplines, especially in scientific disciplines.” The project is rooted in “anti-racism” and critical race theory. Part of critical race theory involves challenging objectivity to emphasize a commitment to social justice.
The school will approach the project through a critical race theory lens. The team said it will collect “oral histories” of the “lived experiences of Black and Native students” to obtain “data.” The team will then use the data to develop “culturally appropriate” curricula for courses on systemic racism.
In three years, the University of Wisconsin plans to roll out resources on the history of systemic racism, including teacher trainings and workshops.
Other universities that received funding include:
- Brown University
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- Florida International University
- Howard University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Michigan State University
- University of California-Berkeley
- University of California-Riverside
- University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
- University of Oregon
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Texas-San Antonio
Other programs include addressing the crossroads between climate and racial justice (University of Oregon) and exploring the “political stakes” for “Latinx” communities (University of California-Riverside).